Three Lakes School Board holds special meeting to discuss Walker campaign adSubmitted: 08/09/2018
Rose McBride
Rose McBride

Three Lakes School Board holds special meeting to discuss Walker campaign ad
*UPDATED 8/10/2018

Governor Walker told Newswatch12 Friday that the Three Lakes School District knew exactly what it was getting into when he visited its fab lab.

At a campaign stop in Antigo, Walker said his campaign team was clear about why he was visiting the school.

"We're straight forward about what our expectations were, just as we do with every other ad that we do. We tell people what the ads are for. We said it was for an ad, not a public service announcement or anything else. This was an ad out there I think we were pretty clear," said Walker.

Walker also felt the ad was not an endorsement for himself, but rather a chance for the Three Lakes School to tell its story.

"Well in their case they're not endorsing, they're just telling the story. None of them said vote for or against, the bottom line is they just told the story and they told the honest truth about what we've done," said Walker.

Walker also said the ad will reach the end of its cycle this week and will not air again.

Only about 500 students fill the entire Three Lakes School District, but the entire state knows about Three Lakes Schools now.

Governor Walker chose to highlight the school and town in a political ad.

It was an ad that many people in Three Lakes didn't know was coming.

The Three Lakes School Board held a special meeting Thursday night to discuss political partisanship and try to correct mistakes the school district admits it made.

"Recently I failed to vet the purpose of the governor's visit as thoroughly as I should have. This was a mistake on my part, and I apologize for that," said Three Lakes Superintendent Dr. George Karling.

But Board President Tom Rulseh said the board didn't know the governor's visit would lead to a campaign ad.

"That was our understanding, that he was coming here and going to look at the fab lab and learn a little more about it. But we didn't know anything about anything related to a campaign ad," said Rulseh.

The board read and approved a policy Thursday night saying that employees and the board will not engage in political activity or show any political preference on work time.

But many people in the crowd said the new policy just reiterates something that was already expected of public employees.

"Every teacher knows that in a classroom they cannot give any of their political persuasion to their students," said Lynn Zibell from Three Lakes. 

"Public facilities should not be used in any kind of election campaign," said Theresa Griffin-Ray from Three Lakes.

Despite Rulseh's claims, some people weren't so sure the board didn't know the governor's intent.

"It could have been a very willful action designed to please political interests," said Zibell.

Public Comment was not allowed at the meeting and there wasn't a clear next step presented Thursday night. But moving forward Rulseh wants to be more transparent with the public.

"I did hear from several people who had questions that I think deserve answers," said Rulseh.

People we spoke to at the meeting said they want to see consequences for the superintendent and to open a discuss with the school board about the topic.

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